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Open Science Centre

Engaging local communities with science and technology

6 October 2015

Science and technology should be available to remote communities that don’t have access to it.  With this vision the Open Science Centre project was launched this week. The Open Science Centre (OSC) will be a learning and gathering space to inspire and engage local communities and thereby foster sustainable development. OSC actively contributes to several United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, such as the promotion of equality between genders and communities, and it focuses on creative learning.

“We want to get close to people and do something low cost and adaptable to the needs of local communities,” says Kyra Romero, who is an architect from Spain and currently working on the project for the Leiden Observatory Universe Awareness programme. “Our idea is to get closer to people than big science museums do nowadays, which are mainly located in the big cities. We want to show that science is everywhere and available to everyone. We want to give people a feeling of belonging.”

The project is a collaboration between Leiden University (education and public outreach office, Leiden Observatory), the architect company de Namen and the Japanese design studio NOSIGNER.

The space

“To get people involved in science and technology, you need more than just information on the Internet,” says Romero. “You need a physical space where communities can engage directly with the latest developments of science and technology.”

The OSC project is founded on open standards. That means that everything that will be produced, e.g. the architectural plans, the educational kits, and the software, is open source and available for everyone under a creative commons license.

To be fully adaptable to the local needs, the Open Science Centre will be available in three different ways:

Complete OSC

A complete OSC will consist of a cargo container with all the technological materials and equipment. The central versatile space can be used for workshops during school and group visits and turned into a hands-on exhibition for walk-in public visits. The Centre will provide cutting-edge open technology, including a small fabrication laboratory (FabLab). In the local communities, OSC will be complemented with vernacular architecture, a type of architecture that focuses on local needs, the climate and uses traditional materials. “We want to give the local community a sense of ownership of the OSC by adding traditional materials,” Romero says.

Out-of-box OSC

Romero: “There are a lot of empty spaces that can be used as a science centre. If you want to use such a space, we can provide all the materials you need to set up an OSC.”

The OSC project wants to engage everyone with current and cutting edge knowledge through the following themes: Our Wonderful Universe, Our Fragile Earth, Energy, Life, and Humans. Therefore it uses educational kits that will be available to transform any space (from a classroom to a garden) into an interactive and engaging science centre.

Do-it-yourself OSC

All the blueprints, plans, activities and resources are freely available under a creative commons license. This allows local communities to establish a science centre on their own.


The Open Science Centre project wants to set up a network of teachers, educators, volunteers, policy makers and scientists to share ideas. The network is important to get people to remote places and get involved in the local science centre. For example, OSC will benefit from big science projects that are located in remote regions, such as the SKA telescope project in South Africa.

Get involved

The Open Science Centre project is open for collaboration with everyone and is looking for companies that are interested to invest in the science centres. “The draft of the building is ready. We are now looking for opportunities to start with the first pilot,” Romero explains. The goal is to open the first Open Science Centre in 2016.

To get further information or comments, or if you want to get involved, contact the team:



Open Science Centre
Open Science Centre